Andrew Biggs

In a somewhat bizarre post, Cato’s Michael Cannon complains that “Anyone who thinks that Democrats might be prepared to work in a bipartisan manner to reform Social Security should be quickly disabused by their disgraceful treatment of Andrew Biggs.” Follow the link and you’ll find:

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare called on incoming Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to block President Bush’s nomination of Andrew Biggs to become the next deputy administrator of the Social Security Administration should he renew the nomination in January, charging that his advocacy for the privatization of the popular entitlement and hostility toward other New Deal-era programs makes him a politically polarizing figure.

In other words, the Democrats have done . . . absolutely nothing to Biggs.

Needless to say, though, I think this would be a great issue on which to pick a confirmation battle. Tanner refers to the “swift boating” of Biggs, but the difference of course is that it’s entirely true that Biggs favors privatization of the popular entitlement program and is hostile to other New Deal programs. The Republican Party, however, is usually quite successful at obscuring from public view the fact that a desire to dismantle Social Security (and, indeed, Medicare) is conventional wisdom in their political party. Hearings on Biggs’ nomination would be a good place to clarify that (a) the Bush administration wants to destroy Social Security, (b) the overwhelming majority of Republican members of congress want to destroy Social Security, and (c) the only thing keeping Social Security in its existence is the Democratic Party and its elected officials.

What’s more, Democrats should be implacably opposed to “reforming” Social Security in a bipartisan manner. Or, for that matter, a partisan one. Privateer interest in handling this in a bipartisan manner is telling; what they want to do is political poison and they’re looking for cover. Instead, they should be made to drink their own brew and suffer the consequences.